Contemplations and lessons from the story of Yusuf (عليه السلام)
Sheikh Saalih aal Taalib
May 11, 2012 ~ Jumadal Akhirah 20, 1433
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Surely all praise is due to Allah. We praise Him, seek help and forgiveness from Him and We seek His protection from the evil of our souls and from our evil deeds. Whoever Allah guides, then there is no misguidance for him and whoever Allah leads astray, then there is no guidance for him. And I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone. He has no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger. May Allah’s salutations, peace and blessings be on him and on his good, pure family and his companions, the fortunate personalities, and those who came after them and those who follow them in goodness until the Day of Judgement.
I advise you – O people – and myself to fear Allah. For taqwa is the lifeline and it is a barrier against trials, and with it there is help at the time of hardships and tribulations.
“No doubt! Verily the Auliya of Allah (those who believe in Oneness of Allah and fear Him and love Him), no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve, Those who believed, and used to fear Allah much For them are glad tidings, in the life of the present world, and in the Hereafter. No change can there be in the Words of Allah, this is indeed the supreme success.” [Yunus; Verse 62 – 64]
O you patient and steadfast ones – and O you troubled ones! Verily with the long length of night and the aggravation of wounds, optimism is beautified. And in the midst of sadness, tales of solace are wished for. And during pains, hopes are born. And when hardships become severe, and when calamities become widespread, and the evildoer dominates and the victor becomes rare – then the way of Allah in His Quran (is that) before victory there are stories that send hope and liven up the souls and purify them with faith.
And whatever afflicts a believer of wounds or troubles is nothing except a norm that has passed by the sincere friend before; raising ranks; decreasing the sins; examining the hearts; and distinguishing the believing nation. “If a wound has touched you, be sure a similar wound has touched the others. And so are the days, We give to men by turns, that Allah may test those who believe, and that He may take martyrs from among you. And Allah likes not the wrong-doers. And that Allah may test the believers and destroy the disbelievers.” [Aal Imraan; Verse 140-141]
And in the biography of our prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him – are signs and lessons. And in the most critical and severe of times in Makkah, three years before the migration, Khadeejah – may Allah be pleased with her – passed away, and she was a true advisor to Islam. The beloved prophet would complain to her and seek support from her. And his paternal uncle Abu Talib passed away and he was a prevention for him and a helper against his nation. And people found the incident of Israa (night journey) strange so they belied him (prophet), and some who had become Muslim apostatised. And da’wah (calling to Islam) regressed until no one was entering into Islam.
And the Prophet – peace be upon him – called that year: The Year of Sadness. And the Quraysh ventured against the Prophet – peace be upon him. And war against him had reached to its furthest extent. And the messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – was suffering from loneliness and foreignness – and the group of Muslims suffered this hardship with him.
So Allah the Exalted revealed Sura Israa and Furqaan, then Sura Yunus was revealed, then Sura Hood and in them was steadfastness and pleasure and the stories of the prophets and their information with their nations and the days spent with them and the success of the Truth and its people – whatever strengthened the determination of the prophet – peace be upon him – and his believing group. And at the end of Sura Hood: “And all that We relate to you (O Muhammad –peace be upon him) of the news of the messengers is in order that We may make strong and firm your heart thereby. And in this (chapter of the Quraan has come to you the truth, as well as admonition and a reminder for the believers.” [Hood; Verse 120]
And after these Suras and in that sad time, Sura Yusuf was revealed. It was a balm, love and mercy from Allah and a solace. And it was the last of the beautiful stories.
Sura Yusuf, in it are scenes of pain and hope, and the bitterness of separation and the sweetness of meeting. In it are tales of despondence and certainty, and oppression and subjugation, and trials and patience, then success and victory. In it is revenge and pardoning and forgiving. In it is hope and Dua and stability after trials, and good consequences for the pious and the patient.
In Sura Yusuf, the wisdom and decree of Allah is manifested, and his planning and secrets in a narrative style not heard of before by the world. “Alif-Lam-Raa. These are the verses of the clear Book. Verily, We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran in order that you may understand. We relate unto you (Muhammad – peace be upon him) the best of stories through Our revelations unto you, of this Quran. And before this (revelation) you were among those who knew nothing about it (Quran).” [Yusuf; Verse 1-3]. Allah relates to His noble prophet the story of his noble brother: Yusuf ibn Ya’qub ibn Ishaaq ibn Ibraheem – peace and salutations of Allah be upon all of them. And he was suffering many kinds of tribulations and hardships: the tribulation of the plotting of the brothers; the tribulation of the well and fear and intimidation in it; and the tribulation of slavery and he was transferred like a commodity from hand to hand against his wish and he had no protection and no care from his parents or family.
And the tribulation of the plot of the wife of Azeez (ruler of Egypt) and the women. And before this the hardship of seduction and the trial of lust. And the tribulation of prison after a comfortable and tender life in the palace of Azeez. Then the tribulation of prosperity and full authority in his hands while he was ruling over the livelihoods of people and their throats, and in his hands was a bit of bread that sustained them. And the trial of human emotions when he met, after that, his brothers who threw him in the well and who were the apparent reason for all these tribulations and hardships.
So it is not strange that this Sura – with whatever it contains of the story of this noble prophet and of the commentaries on it after that that was revealed to the messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – and the Muslims with him in Makkah at that particular time – that it was a consolation and a pleasure, and peace and steadfastness for the persecuted expatriates.
But as if in this there was a hint about the exit from Makkah to another land where there will be victory and stability, even though leaving was disliked under threat, just as Yusuf was taken out from the lap of his father to face all these hardships. Then he ended up after that with victory and stability. “Thus did We establish Yusuf in the land, that We might teach him the interpretation of events. And Allah has full power and control over His affairs, but most of men know not.” [Yusuf; Verse 21]
The verse of stability came in between mentioning Yusuf when he was being sold as a slave. And this Sura came and in all its stages of narration is a confirmation of faith, firm belief and certainty in the Lord of the worlds, and good consequences for the pious.
And at the time that Yusuf was thrown in the well, and sold, and the intention of the plot against him, Allah the Exalted said: “And Allah has full power and control over His affairs, but most of men know not.” [Yusuf; Verse 21]. So the brothers of Yusuf wished a matter for him and Allah wished a matter for him – and when Allah has full control over His affairs and is Dominant, then His affairs will surely be disposed. As for the brothers of Yusuf – they owned none of their affairs, so it escaped from their hands and was disposed against their wishes. “but most of men know not” – They do not know that the way of Allah will come to pass and that His affairs will occur.
And when Yusuf was about to lean towards a mortal – mentioning his being oppressed to the king – his retribution was that he remained in prison for several years. His Lord wished to teach him how to cut off all means, and to hold fast to His means alone; that He does not make His needs fulfilled at the hands of a servant; and not through means attached to a servant. And this is from His selection and His Generosity.
Verily, the pious servants of Allah should be sincere to Him – Glorified is He – and their leadership should call unto Him alone and they should call unto Him – Glorified is He – to map out their pathways. And when they fail to their human weaknesses in the first case regarding the choice of this method they should prefer Allah – Glorified is He – then He will make them overpower it (weakness) until they know Him and experience Him and they commit to Him thereafter in obedience, pleasure, love and yearning. So He will complete His favour on them because of all of this.
Certainty (Yaqeen) is: Being proud of Allah, and peace towards Him and certainty in Him and deprived without Him and divorcing all worldly values and freedom of all its lassos (ropes), and belittling heavy matters that are controlled.
As for Ya’qub, the prophet, – he was a firm believer and a confident, patient (person). And at every moment and occasion he says: “But Allah is the Best to guard and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy” [Yusuf; Verse 64] and he says “and I cannot avail you against Allah at all. Verily! The decision rests only with Allah. In Him I put my trust and let all those that trust, out their trust in Him.” [Yusuf; Verse 67]
And at the time of losing his three children and the pain reached its end he says: “So patience is more fitting (for me). May be Allah will bring them (back) all to me. Truly He! Only He is All-Knowing, All-Wise”. And he says: “I only complain of any grief and sorrow to Allah, and I know from Allah that which you know not. O my sons! Go you and enquire about Yusuf and his brother and never give up hope of Allah’s Mercy. Certainly no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.” [Yusuf; Verse 86-87]
Verily it is the faith of the prophets and the certainty of the true believers. So never give up hope of Allah’s mercy – O you who are traumatized. And never give up hope of Allah’s victory – O you stationed ones, steadfast in the face of storms. The believers, those whose hearts are connected to Allah; whose souls are moist with His mercy, feeling His gentle breezes, do not lose hope in the mercy of Allah even if hardships encompass them, and narrowness becomes severe on them. For a believer is in mercy from the shadows of his faith; and in happiness due to the link with His Lord, and in peace due to the certainty of His Protector, even though he may be in severe difficulty or choking hardships.
Surely these trials and hardships were from the planning of Allah and His Kindness, Knowledge and Mercy, until Allah gave Yusuf – peace be upon him – full authority on the earth. So he became a dear king. In his hands were the storehouses of Egypt. “Thus did We give full authority to Yusuf in the land, to take possession therein, as when or where he likes.” [Yusuf; Verse 56]. He took from it the position he wanted, and the place he wanted, in contrast to the well and whatever was in it of fears and the prison and whatever was in it of restrictions. “We bestow our mercy on who We please” so We exchanged for him difficulty with ease, narrowness with escape, and fear with safety, and restrictions with freedom, and the disgrace among people with honour and a high position. “And We make not to be lost the reward of the good doers.” Those who perfect the faith in Allah and reliance and turning to Him. And they perfect their behaviour and deeds. “And Verily, the reward of the Hereafter is better for those who believe and used to fear Allah and keep their duty to Him (by abstaining from all kinds of sins and evil deeds and by performing all kinds of good deeds)” [Yusuf; Verse 57]
And like this, Allah replaced for Yusuf the trials with that position on earth, and this glad-tidings in the Hereafter, an agreeable reward for faith, patience and good. And this is the recurrent secret of the description of Allah – Exalted in His being – that He is the All-Knowing, All-Wise. He knows the conditions. And He knows what is behind these incidents and hardships. And He brings every affair at its appropriate time, when His Wisdom is realized in the sequence of reasons and results. “It may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good.” [Nisaa; Verse 19]
And at the end of the Sura “And We sent not before you (as messengers) any but men, whom We inspired from among the people of townships. Have they not travelled through the earth and seen what was the end of those who were before them? And Verily, the home of the Hereafter is the best for those who fear Allah and obey Him. Do you not then understand?” [Yusuf; Verse 109] “(They were reprieved) until, when the messengers gave up hope and thought that they were denied (by their people), then came to them Our help, and whomsoever We willed were delivered. And Our Punishment cannot be warded off from the people who are Mujrimoon (criminals/sinners)” [Yusuf; Verse 110] “Indeed in their stories, there is a lesson for men of understanding. It (Quraan) is not a forged statement but a confirmation of Allah’s existing Book (Taura and Injeel) and a detailed explanation of everything and a guide and a Mercy for the people who believe” [Yusuf; Verse 111]. Verily it is steadfastness with the passing of Allah’s way when the messengers lose hope and a hint to a disliked exit that precedes the desired escape.
Meanings that believing hearts are aware of so faith and certainty fill them, and patience and steadfastness. That is the way of Allah. Hardships are unavoidable and distress is unavoidable. Then victory comes after despondency from all the apparent means that people attach to. Victory comes from Allah. So those who deserve saviour are saved from the destruction that overtakes the oppressors. And they are saved from oppression and tyranny that which the haughty have brought upon them. And Allah’s strength replaces the criminals, destroying, eradicating, not stopping. And no helper or friend can block it. “Indeed in their stories, there is a lesson for men of understanding. It (Quraan) is not a forged statement but a confirmation of Allah’s existing Book (Taura and Injeel) and a detailed explaination of everything and a guide and a Mercy for the people who believe” [Yusuf; Verse 111].
May Allah bless me and you in the Book (Quran) and Sunnah, and benefit us with what is in them of verses and wisdom. I say these words of mine and I ask Allah – the Exalted – to forgive me and you.
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. The Beneficient, the Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgement. And I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone. He has no partner. The clear Truth. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger. The truthful, the trustworthy. May Allah’s salutations, peace and blessings be on him and on all his family and companions.
Servants of Allah:
For truth and justice are words that have to be said. And condemnation of oppression without sweet talk or excuses. For verily what has occurred regarding the seizing of the Saudi diplomat in Yemen is a wrong act and an oppression and crime which neither religion nor customs condone. It is not from religion or from Jihad. And it is not enmity against just one Muslim, but it is enmity against every one representing them from this land. And an announcement for hostility and fighting for them. And our lands never answer for blackmail and they do not decline their rights. Except that the door of repentance is open, and the principle of review is discarded.
So fear Allah regarding Islam and the Muslims. For how many vices are gained due to distorted behaviours and deviant ideas.
May Allah release the captive and make the plots of the aggressors turn against them.
This; and send salutations and peace on the chosen prophet and selected messenger.
O Allah send salutations, peace and blessings on Your servant and messenger Muhammad, and on his good, pure family, and his companions, the outstanding personalities.
O Allah be pleased with the guided leaders and the rightly-guided khulafa: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali and all the other companions of your prophet and those who follow their ways and emulate their methods, O Lord of the worlds.
O Allah grant honour to Islam and the Muslims…